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Assessing the quality of patient handoffs at care transitions
  1. Tanja Manser1,
  2. Simon Foster2,
  3. Stefan Gisin3,
  4. Dalit Jaeckel4,
  5. Wolfgang Ummenhofer5
  1. 1School of Psychology, Industrial Psychology Research Centre, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  2. 2Department of Management, Technology, and Economics, Center for Organizational and Occupational Sciences, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  3. 3Department of Anaesthesia and Swiss Center for Medical Simulation, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  4. 4Department of Psychology, University Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  5. 5Department of Anaesthesia, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tanja Manser, School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, King's College, G32 William Guild Building, Aberdeen AB24 2UB, UK; t.manser{at}


Background Effective handoff practices (ie, mechanisms for transferring information, responsibility and authority) are critical to ensure continuity of care and patient safety.

Objective This study aimed to develop a rating tool (self-rating and external rating) for handoff quality that goes beyond mere information transfer.

Methods The rating tool was piloted during 126 patient handoffs performed in three different clinical settings in a tertiary care hospital: (1) paramedic to emergency room staff, (2) anaesthesia care provider to postanaesthesia care unit (PACU) and (3) PACU nurse to ward nurse.

Results We identified three factors (information transfer, shared understanding, working atmosphere) predicting handoff quality.

Conclusions This study provides insights into the multidimensional concept of handoff quality. Our rating tool is feasible and comprehensive by including not only characteristics of the information process but also aspects of teamwork and, thus, provides an important tool for future research on patient handoff.

  • Handoff
  • patient safety
  • rating tool
  • human factors
  • teamwork
  • care transitions
  • assessment
  • collaborative
  • healthcare quality

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.